The Sturgeon Bay Terrace project planned along the West Waterfront was back Monday before the city’s Aesthetic Design and Site Plan Review Board, which approved an exterior staircase on the south side of the building.
The project developer, Peter Gentry of WWP Development, said the building plans included a staircase in the interior, but a second staircase and an elevator were required after a state review of the plans.
“We felt this wasn’t the worst thing in the world,” he said. “Because of the working nature of it, we felt that maybe the simplest solution was the best solution.”
Gentry said the exterior staircase was intended for emergency access from the second floor, which will have offices and an exterior patio.
City planner/zoning administrator Stephanie Servia said the main challenge was the building didn’t have a true rear view for the staircase.
“All sides of the building are in the public view from either public roads or public lands surrounding the site,” she said.
Servia said the side where the staircase will be located, which faces the approach to the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge, is also where the dumpsters will be situated.
The site of the two-story, mixed-use development is located in the city’s Tax Incremental District (TID) #4. WWP will receive up to $685,000 in incentives from the city, according to the development agreement. Those incentives would be reduced if the assessed value of the project is lower than $2.4 million.
Community development director Marty Olejniczak said he expects the value the exterior staircase would add to the project will be “negligible.”
“The designs do conform to what [the board] approved last year,” he said. “Mr. Gentry correctly points out the ATC [American Transmission Company] fiasco delayed things, and we had to work through that, get our settlement agreement in place, and it wasn’t until we were ready to issue building permits that this stairwell issue came up.”
ATC located an underground high-voltage power line in a different area than where the city agreed to an easement for it near the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge. Because the power line is also routed under the Bay of Sturgeon Bay to an electrical substation on the city’s east side, city officials determined it was not practical to require the line’s removal and instead sought compensation from ATC related to shifting the building’s footprint to accommodate the power line and the easement where construction won’t be allowed.
The settlement agreement approved by the Common Council called for ATC to make a “new easement payment” of $231,950, of which $162,250 would go to WWP Development and $69,700 to the city for incurred losses.
The council also approved an amendment to the development agreement with WWP Development to include the amount of compensation from ATC as well as at least $215,000 in grant funds to the developer from a $250,000 community development investment (CDI) grant the city received. No more than $35,000 of the grant may be used for public parking.
In addition to the power line’s location having delayed the project from proceeding, levels of methane found at the site required sending a methane-mitigation plan through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, for which WWP Development hired a consultant that the state agency approved.
Gentry – who is also the founder of One Barrel Brewing Company, which operates a taproom in Egg Harbor – said what he has gone through to be able to construct the Sturgeon Bay Terrace on the West Waterfront has made for a “stressful and challenging project.”
He said he now hopes to begin construction this fall and open next spring.